I have heard quite often about a trip that my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher took back to the old country…Germany. As far as I know it was the only trip he ever took back there to see his family and also spend some time with my great grandmother, Henriette’s family. The trip was taken in 1907, when my Great Aunt Bertie was just 8 years old. Grandpa wanted to show his family that he was doing well, as was his family, and show them his family, since they had never met them. He had a picture that was taken in front of the house with the women standing there, and the 14 horses they owned at the time along side. The men were holding the horses, and at the end of the line was Albert “trying to hold down” his horse, Beauty, which only he and Mina dared to ride. As it turned out, his family thought that his family must be rich, to own so many horses. They thought it was the right decision to move to America. They must have thought it was easy to get rich in America, when in reality, they weren’t wealthy. The family had what they had because of hard work and a little frugality.
In all, my great grandfather would spend three months in Germany. That is a long time to be away from his family, but it made perfect sense, because getting there was not a quick trip in itself. Traveling by ship both ways was a slow mode of travel, so it made no sense to go if you weren’t going to stay a while. Upon his return, my Great Aunt Bertie went off by herself for a few minutes. She needed to cry a little for the joy of having him back. But while she needed a little cry to release the pent up loneliness she had been feeling, she was also very excited about the things he brought with him. The family back in Germany wanted to send some gifts back for the family with him, and they were magnificent. While Bertie only tells of the things she and Elsa received, I can imagine that the gifts for the rest of the family were equally magnificent.
Nevertheless, everyone was excited about the dolls that were sent for Bertie and Elsa. The dolls were three feet tall with human hair. They were beautifully dressed in pale blue dresses made by a dressmaker in Germany. They had little cloth bracelets of lace at their wrists, and their hands moved separately from the arms. The dresses were trimmed everywhere with tucks and lace of pale blue. On their feet were baby stockings and real leather slippers. The dolls were so big that Bertie and Elsa really couldn’t easily play with them, so they were given a special place in the parlor, where everyone could see and enjoy their beauty. When Bertie and Elsa moved to Colorado, many years later, they were unable to take the dolls with them, so they donated the dolls to a Crippled Children’s Home near Jamestown, North Dakota. The dolls were completely renovated and beautifully dressed, and were locked in a glass case for viewing only.
I have to wonder if my great aunts were a little sad when the donated their dolls, for while they were children anymore, the dolls were such a special gift, and had come from so far and with so much love that it must have been like leaving a little bit of their hearts behind too. Still, they must have brought much joy and happiness to the children who got to look at them.